Whether you are preparing to enter the job market for the first time, or have been working for the majority of your life, now is an excellent time to begin a career as an IT professional. The tech market has been booming over the past few decades and shows no signs of slowing down with so much growth and such a high demand for new gadgets, apps, and software.
One of the most difficult parts of applying for a job is getting started, especially when you don’t really know where to begin. If you find yourself in this position, the best resource available to you is one that can offer not only information to help you every step of the way, but also tips from professionals already working and hiring employees within the technical field. This is that resource.
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Resume, Interview, & Networking Tips
Resume vs Curriculum Vitae
Prior to updating your resume or curriculum vitae (CV), it is important to know which one a company prefers. The biggest difference between the two is that a resume is typically limited to one page, while a CV is usually two pages, three at the most. Resumes tend to be more to the point, while CVs allow you to expand on your qualifications, focusing on education, experience, research, publications, and awards.
Good First Impressions
Your resume or CV is the first impression a potential employer will have about you, so take the time to make sure your resume paints a complete and positive picture about who you are. Before sending out your resume or CV, look the piece over to ensure it’s professional and has no typos and is clearly written.
Find a Balance
One of the hardest parts about writing a resume or CV is finding the balance between talking yourself up and finding a balance in how much to embellish your achievements. You want to be sure everything you include on your resume is valid and is backed up by a reference, or exemplified by your own working knowledge or accolades.
Coordinate Your Resume for Each Job
While it may be easy to send out a carbon copy of your resume for every position you’re applying for, don’t.
Job Brown, IT & Web Manager at Wooden Blinds Direct, says, “as is the case in any job, tailor your CV to the specific role. Do as much research on the company as you can and see if you can find out what software they are using. Be sure to keep your CV broad, highlight specific pieces of software from your research of the job specification. Don’t forget to show your passion – IT is a vital part of practically every business today, but companies want people with a genuine flare and interest in the area, as well as the skills to do the job.”
Key takeaway: Include power words in your resume and relevant keywords to make your resume stand out.
Stick To Relevant Information
Potential employers are interested in the experience you’ve had that pertains to the job you’re applying for. Make sure those skills and qualifications stand out above the ones that have nothing to do with the position.
According to Anthony Jullien, Director of IT at Dupray, the best resumes are the one that are tightly relevant to the job description. If you’re applying to become a web designer, your time as a waiter doesn’t help. Ultimately, hiring managers want to know about that server job, but you need to find the right balance between telling them about your general work experience and your relevant work experience. Your ability to be patient and diligent is noted as a server. Yet, hiring managers need to see tangible experience or ability in the areas that you’ll actually be working in.
Mary Davenport, President & CEO at TransTech recommends pretending you have two minutes in front of the hiring manager to convince them why you are worth the time to interview. The best approach to making your resume stand out is to tailor the resume to fit the 2-3 most critical aspects of the role and demonstrating competency through behaviors and past experience. Every hiring manager is different, but every hiring manager has tendencies and hot buttons. Do you your research and play to those tendencies.
Backup What’s On Your Resume
As mentioned above, it’s imperative that everything on your resume or CV is accurate. While the layout of an interview varies from company to company, you’ll be asked questions about your work experience, education, and any skills you have listed on your resume. If you can’t exemplify the knowledge that you claim to have, the interview will most likely not go well.
Know the basics, nothing looks worse in an interview than being able to answer complex questions but not knowing how to ping a machine. You should also be ready to demonstrate everything you have listed on your CV. — Job Brown, Wooden Blinds Direct
Prepare and do your homework on the company, the interviewer, and the job. There’s an abundance of information on sites like Glassdoor and LinkedIn. Generally, the first five minutes and last five minutes of the interview are the most impactful way of differentiating yourself from the rest of the field. Don’t be afraid to enthusiastically convey to the hiring manager why you want the position and why you want to work on their team. — Mary Davenport, TransTech
Master Your Interview Skills
After submitting your resume and securing an interview, it’s time to start preparing for your first face-to-face meeting with your potential future employer. Keep in mind how important first impressions are and verify you dress appropriate and professional for the interview.
Do your due diligence about the company before your interview to show the hiring manager that you’re genuinely interested in that specific position with that specific company.
Dress for success with these tips and tricks.
Know the Company
If you’re honest on your resume and have properly researched the company, you’ll feel confident going into the interview. Be ready to ask any questions you have about the position—doing so will once again show your interest in the job and prove that you’ve done your research.
The worst mistake someone can make is to not ask return questions at the end of the interview.
“We just spent an hour asking you forty or so questions. You have nothing on your mind? You’re not interested about your day-to-day duties? What about the company dynamic? What about the people who you will work with? You have no questions for me about tools and technology that we use? People who don’t ask questions in an interview show me that they just want a job—not this job. They want to come to work for eight hours a day, get paid, and leave. I need to be shown that this person cares about the role and will eventually care for their work and the company. Even if you only have time for one question to be asked, it better be a thoughtful one.” —Anthony Jullien at Dupray
Network, Network, Network
Regardless of your past work experience, you’ve no doubt heard or learned first-hand how important networking can be. The whole idea is to find other people with similar career goals and connect with them in hopes that one of these connections will lead to a job within your desired career field. Thanks to social media, it’s now easier than ever to network.
The best networkers are interesting and ask great questions. Get involved with one or two networking groups and dig deep, attend all of the scheduled meetings, and have something of value to offer the group. The law of reciprocity generally serves true and value will be returned your way. Most people give up on networking because they’re not patient enough to see the immediate value. The value comes over time, once people become familiar with you and build some level of rapport and trust. —Mary Davenport, TransTech
Not much of a networker? Take some time to practice and improve your networking skills.
Network On LinkedIn
A LinkedIn profile is a must. Make sure you fill out your profile in its entirety, complete with a professional profile picture, highlights of your accomplishments, and links to projects you’ve been a part of and papers you’ve written. An excellent LinkedIn profile can play a huge role in securing you a career as an IT professional by making your information available to employers searching for employees, and people who have connections within the field.
Take time to learn how to attract employer’s attention on LinkedIn.
Who You Know Can Help
Exchange business cards when you meet someone new, especially if they work within the IT field. Don’t be afraid to talk to friends and ask if they have connections they’d be willing to introduce your to. Being a hard worker with lots of experience can help you secure that job, but let’s face it, who you know could be what helps you get the interview in the first place.
Always Be Networking
Go to IT conferences, take classes to keep up on your skills and develop new skills along the way. See everyone you meet to be a potential lead, but remember to never be pushy. The key to successful networking is to be authentic and to find ways on how you can help someone else out. If you go into a networking event with an attitude of getting something instead of giving, people will pick up on that fast and you’ll lose potential connections who could help you further your career.
Best Degrees for IT Professionals
Most universities offer degrees in computer science, allowing you to gain a thorough and in-depth knowledge of the IT field. Nearly every university offering online courses has a computer science program that is often referred to as a Master of Information Technology. These online programs are an excellent option whether you’re simply looking to get started in the IT field, or hoping to make yourself more valuable at your current job, offering a flexible setting that allows you to make school fit around your everyday schedule.
The Top 10 Universities
When preparing to enter into the world of IT management, having a strong background in IT is important to help you stand out from the crowd and show hiring managers you have the education and expertise to do the job. Because of this, having a degree in IT is crucial and can give you some extra clout when applying for jobs.
If you are interested in earning your Master’s in Information Technology degree, here are some colleges to consider:
- Carnegie Mellon University
- Penn State World Campus
- Creighton University
- Brandeis University
- Boston University Distance Education
- Arizona State University
- New Jersey Institute of Technology
- University of Illinois, Springfield
- Quinnipiac University
- Drexel University
For those interested in earning their Bachelor of Information Technology Degree, there are a lot of excellent online courses offered from accredible schools, such as Penn State World Campus, UMass Online, Drexel University Online, and University of Denver.
To learn more about these schools and many more, check out this article from TheBestSchools.com.
IT Tools and Resources
LinkedIn & Other Digital Platforms
LinkedIn is one of the most powerful networking tools at your disposal. Connect with people you work with, you never know, they might just be your next hire or manager. Not only that, but connect with recommended suggestions of people who work in similar fields, they may be the stepping stone to your dream job. — Job Brown, Wooden Blinds Direct
This networking tool allows you to connect with other people interested in or already working within the same career field as you. Even connecting with people who aren’t within the IT field can be beneficial, since you never know who might have the connections you need to land a job.
In addition to LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can be beneficial and aid in your search for an IT position. Use these platforms to discuss your passion for IT, answer questions, and build an authentic relationship with other people in your field. You never know when an interaction will turn into a lead.
Let your friends and family know the kind of job you’re looking for and see if they know of anyone or have connections to a job opening that would be a good fit for you.
Job Search Engines
Job search engines like Monster and Indeed are another excellent resource to use in your hunt for an IT position. Technical jobs are being posted on these sites more as the demand within the industry goes up. We are living in the age of the internet so take advantage of that and use these platforms as a tool to help you land your new job.
Utilize Every Resource
The IT job market is growing, and it’s important to utilize every resource at your disposal to keep up with it.
Alan Wisniewski, IT Sales Manager at Systematix, adds organizations are moving strongly toward Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) access, bringing outsourced activities back in-house, and finding ways to make use of the growing amounts of data flowing in from many new sources such as social media. These factors create an increasing shift in required and desired skills showing up in IT departments so anyone having these skills would have an advantage. The top IT skills sought are Programming and Application Development, Help Desk and Technical Support, Networking, Mobile Applications and Device Management, Project Management, Database Administration, Security, Business Intelligence/Analytics, Cloud and Interpersonal skills.
Not sure which skills are most beneficial for your career? Check out these IT skills that will pay them bills.
Certifications, Conferences, & Training Courses
With such constant change occurring in the IT field, you need to find a way to keep up. The best way do this is by following websites that will keep you updated on what’s new. DNSstuff is a great resource to keep you in the loop with up-to-date information on the happenings within the technical field.
DNSstuff has excellent information about IT conferences happening in 2016, sharing their opinions on which conferences shouldn’t be missed, which are the most cost-effective, and which ones will help keep you ahead of the competition. This comprehensive list makes it simple to determine which conferences will best fit your needs and professional goals.
Certifications and Training Courses
There is no shortage of training courses to attend and certifications to earn within the IT field. The types of training and certification you need depend entirely on your IT position, since different jobs require different knowledge.
These 5 have all got a good success record for people obtaining jobs:
- Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP)
- Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
- CompTIA A+ Technician
- Project Management Professional (PMP)
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE)
However, it really depends on what area the person wants to work in there are separate certifications available for all the different segments such as Big Data, Cloud, Forensics, Database, Help Desk, Security, Governance, IT Trainer, Linux, Mobile App Development, Programming, Project Management and many more. — Alan Wisniewski, Systematix
Key takeaway: Enhancing your skills as an IT professional is a must if you want to excel in your career. Learn more for becoming an IT manager with these great insights.
Best Cities & Average Salary Range for IT Professionals
Knowing the average salaries paid to IT professionals in various cities across the country is beneficial to not only help you determine your own worth, but perhaps to also help you decide where to relocate to make more money. While Silicon Valley has long been considered the place to be for tech careers, many other states are starting to attract tech companies, giving you more locations to consider when looking for an IT career.
Some of the top locations for careers in the technical field are and the average salaries include:
- Silicon Valley, $118,243
- Los Angeles, $105,091
- Boston, $103, 675
- Seattle, $103, 309
- Washington D.C., $102, 873
- Minneapolis, $100,379
- San Diego, $98,934
- Austin, $98,672
- Denver, $97,882
- Atlanta, $97,238
- Sacramento, $97,237
- Philadelphia, $95,579
- Kansas City, $89,448
A few other cities to consider are:
- New York City
- Salt Lake City
Read more about the benefits of each location and salary ranges here.
Further Advice & Inspiration
“The best part of learning is sharing what you know.”
– Vaughn K. Lauer
In many business circles, there is often a phrase that elicits a huge opportunity for small businesses. This sentence is ‘I got a guy’. It sounds overtly simple and innocent, but at the end of the day, having somebody refer to you as ‘the guy’ or ‘the girl’ who can perform a highly specific task is an opportunity for you and your business. ‘I have a friend for taxes,’ or ‘I know a girl who sells the best flowers’ is basically the professional equivalent of a positive affirmation for your business. It is the equivalent of a positive review. You need to become that ‘guy’ or that ‘girl’ by putting yourself out there and by telling everyone you know about your expertise with a product or service. — Anthony Jullien, Dupray
Starting your hunt for a job as an IT professional should no longer seem daunting now that you have the resources you need to help you navigate the process from start to finish. Be prepared to pay your dues to ultimately get the job of your dreams, but never sell yourself short, and never give up. All of your hard work will pay off as you establish yourself within your newfound career.
As you move forward in starting your career as an IT professional, take two or three of the tips you’ve found most helpful and apply them to your own job search. While you move forward in your job search, refer to this article to provide you with further tips and insights for landing a job as an IT professional.